Ronald Speirs was born in Edinburgh in Scotland and grew in in Portland in the state of Maine in the United States. He carried out a military drive at the time of his schooling and the authorities militairs proposed to him to begin in the infantry. But Speirs engaged like volunteer in the parachutists of Airborne. He was the platoon leader of the D company in Toccoa in 1942.
Lt. Speirs was not very liked by the men under his command, but he had their respect and was seen as a hard, but fair officer. His methodes were very straight to the point, and he didn’t like to give a lot of explaination when not needed. His nickname “Sparky” was based on the fact that Lt. Speirs was very irascible.
Ronald Speirs (right) with 2 men of Company C, 506 PIR
Two of the stories that have circulated about Ronald Speirs were that he shot about a dozen German prisoners on D-day and, later, one of his own Sergeants to set an example, because he fell asleep during his guard at night. Major Winters said that the stories about Speirs are true. When he first heard them he was shocked. In today’s Army you would be court-martialed. But back in WWII you needed every men.
Ronald Speirs was also one of the men that participated in the attack on the 4 German 105mm guns shooting at the American soldiers landing at Utah Beach on D-day. The guns were locate opposite a French farmhouse called Brécourt Manor. Lt. Ronald Speirs reinforced Lt. Winters’ assault group with some of his men from D Company. Speirs led the attack on the last gun. Winters watched the men of Dog Company capture the 4th, and last gun, meanwhile he briefly outlined the situation. With the 4 guns taken out, 1st Lt. Winters ordered a withdrawal at 11:30 a.m., about three hours after Winters had received the order to take the battery. The men withdrew with less ammo left. They killed 15 Germans, wounded many more, and taken 12 prisoners.
Ronald Speirs also jumped in Holland on September 17, 1944. The next citation is from 1/Lt. Speirs’ Silver Star certificate:
"FIRST LIEUTENANT RONALD C. SPEIRS, 0439 465, Parachute Infantry, while serving with the Army of the United States, distinguished himself by gallantry in action. On 10 October 1944, in the vicinity of Rendijk, Holland, he was assigned the mission of leading a patrol to the bank of the Neder Rijn River to determine enemy activity across the river. He reached the river bank with his patrol in the early hours of the morning and spent the entire day observing across the river. After dark he voluntarily swam across to the opposite bank alone where he found himself in unknown territory. He located an enemy machine gun nest, an enemy headquarters and other enemy activity near the town of Wageningen. He secured a rubber boat left by the enemy and returned to the friendly side of the river with this information. While returning to his own lines, he was wounded by fire from an enemy machine gun. Lieutenant Speirs was the first to cross the Neder Rijn River in this vicinity, and in so doing he paved the way for other patrols to make similar reconnaissance's. The information proved of great value to his unit. His actions were in accordance with the highest standards of military service. He entered military service from Massachusetts."
January 13, 1945, w hen Lt. Norman Dike failed beying a leader for the men of Easy Company during the attack on Foy, Winters turned to Dog Company’s Lt. Speirs and ordered him to “take the company in!” During the attack, Speirs carried out a legendary run without being wounded, which earned him the respect of the men of the entire Second Battalion of the 506th PIR for its competence and its total absence of fear to the dead. Company E attacked the city by the West and Company I of the Third Battalion attacked in North with the top of the main road. That assault resulted in about 70 German prisoners. Winters said: “It was just a roll of the dice that he was standing there when I needed someone.” Winters also said about Speirs that he was a very likable and could very well take orders.
Speirs running to "take command over E company" at Foy (Band of Brothers)
Lt. Speirs joined and took the command of Easy Company in Bastogne, during the Battle of the Bulge. In David Webster’s (one of the men from Easy Company, 506 PIR) book “Parachute Infantry” he says about Speirs: “ We came in at Bastogne,” the Captain said. “His name was Speirs. He was from Boston. His voice was hard and harsh, his eyes cold and narrow, his teeth stained with tobacco, but his smile was honest and sincere.”
Captain Speirs, respected a lot by his Company E, decided to stay on as company commander, after the German surrender in the West, despite having enough points to go home. As the men of Easy Company were playing baseball Major Winters interrupted their game with the news of the Japanese surrender. At the end of the war, Winters ’ Second Battalion, including Speirs, was at Berchtesgaden. When the war was over Ronald Speirs decided to stay in the army, already promoted to Captain.
Ronald C. Speirs in Austria 1945
When Captain Speirs returned to England after WWII to his wife and son he discovered that his wife wasn’t a widow of an English soldier. The English soldier returned from a German prison camp, and his wife chose for her former English husband. Speirs never got a thing back of the items he sent home during the war, as silver items Speirs found at Hitler’s “Eagles Nest”, his wife kept everything for herself.
Speirs also made one combat jump in Korea and commanded there a Rifle Company. In 1956 Speirs took a Russian language course in Monterey, California. After he completed that course he was sent to Potsdam, East Company. He worked there as a communication officer between the American and Russian Army. In 1958 Speirs became US Governor of the Spandau Prison in Berlin. In 1962 Ronald Speirs joined the US forces in Laos. After Speirs left the army, he started to live in Montana.
Matthew Settle was the only actor in movie Band of Brothers that saw the person he played after the movie was filmed. Speirs asked Settle if there was spent a lot of attention in the movie to the stories that were told about Speirs. Then Settle asked Speirs what he thought of all those stories, Speirs answered that it was no problem for him.
Matthew Settle as Ronald Speirs in Band of Brothers
Ronald Speirs attended the ceremony at Utah Beach, 2001. The story is going that it was the first time there that Ronald Speirs and Dick Winters met since 1945.
Major Richard D. Winters said about Speirs: “Speirs had the men’s respect. He had my respect. We both knew he would get the job done. If you can, find that peace within yourself, that peace and quiet and confidence that you can pass on to others, so that they know that you are honest and you are fair and will help them, no matter what, when the chips are down.”